July 25, 2006
July 27, 2006

July 26, 2006


Remember the case in Afghanistan a few months ago when a man was threatened with executiion for converting to Christianity from Islam? Well, conversion rules are not an issue just there. India has been struggling with all that, too, and the other day lawmakers of the state of Madhya Pradesh adopted legislation regulating conversion. I have a particular interest in India because I lived there for two years as a boy, but this kind of controversy makes me glad I'm a resident of the U.S., not of India.

* * *


The other day I received a note in the mail from the Shower of Stoles Project, which seeks to be a voice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender ministers and congregational officers -- those who have come out of the closet and those who haven't.

ShowerAnd it occurred to me that some of you may not be aware of this rich and moving resource that represents justice for leaders of all sexual orientations in faith communities. So the place to start learning about it is here. From the opening page, you can visit lots of pages that tell more about the group.

It began more than 10 years ago when my friend Martha Juillerat (pictured here with a few of the thousands of stoles now in the collection), then a Presbyterian minister, and her partner, Tammy Lindahl, also Presbyterian clergy, felt they had to give up their ordinations. But they wanted church officials to know they weren't the only gay or lesbian clergy in the denomination. So before the regional meeting at which they planned to announce their decision to give up their ordinations, they asked other gay clergy to send them stoles that could be displayed at the meeting. For the rest of that history, click here.

I certainly am aware that most Christians disagree with my position, which is that there should be no barriers to the ordination of otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians. And I know that various denominations, including my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA), are deeply divided over this issue. In fact, I keep hoping that we can find a way to live with our differences over this instead of spending so much time and energy on it, detracting from our ability to do ministry to a hurting world.

At any rate, I just wanted you to know about the Shower of Stoles Project today and to see if you can find a way to hear some of the voices that the project represents. Hearing from and about people whose lives are directly touched by this issue is the only way hearts and minds will be changed.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

AND a P.S.:

I'll be teaching a weekend writing class Oct. 6-8 at the Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center in Bangor, Pa. Think about joining us. For a description of the class, click here. It's called "From Pain to Hope through Writing." In it, we'll spend some time thinking about what Christianity means by hope and then we'll go to those places of personal or collective pain in our lives and write about them, remembering what it means to have hope. We'll also share some of that writing with each other. Writing about pain can be a healing process as we write toward the light. The weekend begins with a Friday evening dinner and session and ends with lunch on Sunday. An Autumn weekend in the Poconos spent with words. What could be better? Hope to see you there.


Joe Barone

I agree "that there should be no barriers to the ordination of otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians." I think that's where Jesus would stand. For years, I've tried to be nice to people and let them have their opinions without speaking out, without standing clearly and strongly for what I believe. I thought such discussions would just bring unChristian divisions. Now I am paying the price. I can't find a local church in a denomination which doesn't welch on this and a whole lot of other things I believe are at the heart of the faith. Oh, for more Progressive Christian Churches in Missouri! We need division, even splits, in these mainline denominations which value unity more than standing for positions which a whole lot of people hold but don't express.


I'd pretty much ceded participating on this forum - but, this topic is one I must make comment.....

I had the opportunity to watch the DVD of the Heartland Men's Chorus performance entitled "All God's Children". It was exceptionally powerful and moving. In the last half of the performance, the men each wore a Stole from the Shower of Stoles Project - one of the few times this has ever been permitted. The visual impression of 120+ Souls and Stoles is forever lasting.

As for Joe....

You can visit the home page for the Institute for Welcoming Resources - the host of the Shower of Stoles Project -


And click on Find a Church.

I am a member of a church affiliated with the United Church of Christ. While each congregation within the national denomination is autonomous unto itself, the UCC has a long history of progressive beliefs and practices - ordination of women, people of color, and LGBT souls; opposition to slavery (Amistad); economic and social justice.


There ARE progressive houses of worship - even here in Missouri! In fact, the "welcoming" movement is the fastest growing segment of the mainstream churches - which, as a whole, are seeing slight declines in overall membership.

Dave Miller

Thank you, Joe. I certainly agree with you.

This is the dilemma I, too, face: do we tolerate unfairness for the sake of unity? Which is the higher principle? What would love do? What, indeed, would Jesus do? (And does the latter question contain a hidden assumption about Jesus’ sexual orientation? Did Jesus wrestle at all with his sexuality, as nearly all of us humans do?)

Bill, you wrote: “Hearing from and about people whose lives are directly touched by this issue is the only way hearts and minds will be changed.” This is most certainly true, and I believe it’s precisely where we’re stuck.

I’ve seen parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles come around on this subject. Like bull riders at a rodeo, they somehow manage to hang on to their relationships with a loved one who reveals that they are gay or lesbian. Love keeps them in the saddle until the bull tires and things settle down again. Then everyone has a new perspective.

As optional homework for the classes I have taught in Christian Caregiving, I sometimes suggest that students attend a local meeting of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and then write about it. I have never had a student object to this assignment on moral or biblical grounds. But I have had students return from these meetings with new perspectives.

I just wish that more connections could be made. And I take comfort from knowing that this will come.


Here is what I don't understand:

To be a gay minister, one must either 1) not read their Bible or 2) read it but interpret to fit one's lifestyle(i.e. change the meaning of the words so that one can reconcile it to mean what you want it to mean). I can't think of another option. If that is the case, how can anyone take spiritual advice, or hear messages from the pulpit,and think they speak with any authority? The only answer I can think of there is that you exercise the same options of Bible study(or lack of) yourself.

SC in KC

Bill said, "Hearing from and about people whose lives are directly touched by this issue is the only way hearts and minds will be changed."

Titus 3:4-7 says, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

I say the changing of hearts and minds can only be accomplished by an act of the Holy Spirit.

Joe said, "We need division, even splits, in these mainline denominations which value unity more than standing for positions which a whole lot of people hold but don't express."

Jesus said in John 17:20-24, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

I say the last thing Christ prayed for before being arrested was the unity of His church. If, for the sake of that unity, I have to reevaluate my sexual predispositions (and as a man predisposed to lust, I certainly do), than it is a small price to pay for the glory of Christ Jesus.

Dave said, "What, indeed, would Jesus do?"

Jesus said in Mark 10:6-9, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

I say that Jesus made it clear that marriage is the only appropriate venue for sexual expression, and that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Anything else constitutes sexual sin.

SC in KC

Regarding regulating religious conversions...

In the news item, I was amused to read that the, "...priest or organisations performing the conversion rituals were also required to inform the authorities about it a month in advance."

Since Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and the Holy Spirit is the person who renews and regenerates the life of a believer, I wonder if the authorities would accept Scripture as the requisite advance notice?


There's not much to understand with many in this crowd. Many do not, in fact, read their Bibles. Whenever scripture is discussed here, or whenever detailed points about Islam is presented for logical, unemotional debate, there is first a flurry of emotional poison (ad hominem attacks) followed by crickets chirping as NO-ONE addresses the points..... There is an immediate falling-off of discourse.

This is exceptionally telling. When man is ruled by his passions, by his lusts (Phil. 3:19) and cannot clearly articulate a reasoned argument without getting apoplectic then you know you've hit a nerve, you know you are dealing with a "mystical" crowd that posit authority within themselves and usurp the authority of God's Word.

This is actually very terrifying-- setting yourself up as the Judge and arbiter of the essence of Truth, as opposed to revering the LOGOS of God which existed prior to all creation, which IS the mind of Christ Himself (1 Cor 2:16).

Again, and again, and again, in topic after topic, it is a question of WHO is your Authority? Many folks here have, in writing, communicated that theirs is not the Word of God. Fair enough. Our part is to make the Truth abundantly clear... and none will have an excuse at the final judgment.

On a side note, even though it is frustrating to see so many who despise the clear teachings of Scripture, I continue to totally cherish this wonderful Nation that permits us all the maximum of freedom of belief. Freedom of speech. I would go to WAR to fight for everyone's right on this forum to express their views without ANY type of physical intimidation or ANY type of retribution. This is not true in many countries of the world.

Further, I would NEVER stand in the way of a gay minister or lezbian priestess seeking to establish or preside over a church. I wouldn't picket the church, I wouldn't firebomb the church, etc. The essence of Christianity is to freely permit man to demonstrate his authority orientation: Will man honor God's Word, or will he be in rebellion to it? Freedom. Volition. These are the keys.

The Lord is the Judge and shall dispense judgment. It is not for me to assume that role (excepting criminality, of course... the Bible does provide restraint and judgment, in time, on criminal behavior)... I would no more usurp His authority as Judge, anymore than I would brazenly usurp the authority of Scripture and appropriate for myself ungodly behavior.

D.A. welcome back to the discourse! I figured you'd return!


Once again we deteriorate into condemnations of GLBT persons.

What the Shower of Stoles project is about - the ORIGINAL subject matter for today - is personal testimony of the emotional and physical abuse experienced by GLBT people by their own faith communities. Excommunications; family members required to shun their father, mother, son, daughter, sibling, cousin; so-called "Reparative Therapy" that oft-times includes defacto kidnapping and electro-shock treatments...these are the stories told with each Stole.


You say you don't "understand". That is fine by me - but at least accept there are people of faith, that through study, scholarship and prayer that believe differently than you. Not just on this subject, but so many others as well. Otherwise there would be only one church, one denomination.

Differences abound on Baptism (total immersion or not), Communion (is grape juice "acceptable"), Race (do people of African descent truly represent the Mark of Cain?), and the role of Women in the church, the family and in society in general.


You offered "I say the changing of hearts and minds can only be accomplished by an act of the Holy Spirit." Can you accept that is precisely what happened in my personal situation? I'd avoided the church for 40 years for my own personal spiritual needs. Upon visiting what is now my church here in Kansas City, I heard "Welcome, Home...", a message I clearly took to be God's voice.


Don't get too excited about my "return"...it won't last, I assure you! :-)

Still, I am encouraged that while we may disagree on some things you wouldn't support firebombing friendly churches. The sad truth today is that, according to FBI statistics, more than 80% of hate crimes (and let's please not get into a flame-war over the existence and/or need for "hate crimes" legislation, okay?) are now committed against the GLB community. Have to leave the T's out of this, since, by law, the FBI isn't allowed to track hate crimes committed against transgenders. I am not one who solely blames Christianity for this sad situation...but neither will I totally absolve some portions of Christianity for their culpability.

There...I'm done.


Does Love = Acceptance?

SC in KC

D.A., you wrote...

"...but at least accept there are people of faith, that through study, scholarship and prayer that believe differently than you."

I'd be sincerely interested in exactly what you have been studying to come to your conclusions. I have repeatedly posted to this site what Scripture has to say on the matter. If you have reached your conclusions based on Scripture, I'd like to know which verses you've found to support your position. Can you elaborate for us, please?

SC in KC


According to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8...

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails."

I think the problem we're having here is the "truth" part.

Greg Swartz

In re Religious Conversions

The situation in India is just another of many from around the world that illustrate why we must be firm in keeping religion, religious organizations, religious symbols, specific church doctrines and the like separated from government (state).

In re LGBT church leaders:

As a secular humanist and atheist, the specific issue is not of great importance to me. However, the larger issue of LGBT rights is of importance to me.

Secular humanists believe in reason and a love and respect for our fellow human beings, the other creature with whom we share this planet and the planet itelf.

So it is my relationship with others that is important! I think that those who rely on an obedience to a father figure that one never sees or on a self-centered hope that they will go to heaven or avoid hell, have a very shallow basis for existence!

For me the important thing is that other people live with that same love and respect for their fellow human being. What difference does it make that two men or two women who love each other chose to spend their lives together? If we were running out of people to continue our species, then I would say, yes, we need more heterosexual unions, but that is hardly the case.

For me the main thing that churches should be looking for are people who are loving, caring and willing to commit themselves to other people on a day to day basis. Not only is it wrong for churches to deny LGBT people this opportunity, but they are missing out on a great resource.

It is so clear to me that when we try to explain things based upon somebody's god or religion, things get totally illogical and divisive. The LGBT issue is just another of them.


Yes! Praise be to God that we have a God and religion that conforms to human logic! Not only that, but an enlightened, post-modern God! Then again, perhaps I should not praise God, because that would put me and "him" in a power relationship, and after all God is egalitarian as well!

SC in KC


I appreciate your thoughtfullness. You've obviously dedicated much time and consideration to your world view. I'm curious, though, how you came to the conclusion that love and respect were positive attributes, and how you determine appropriate expressions of love and respect apart from a theology. Can you elaborate, please?



Could you possibly answer this question for me. There are exclusively homosexual churches in the USA. Why are ordained homosexual ministers willing to split their denominations in order to pursue ministry in a denomination that has a stated view opposite theirs? In essence, they are causing a rift in Christ's church. If their life were devoted to Christ and His people, I would think they would want to maintain unity. Also, did they not take vows for ministry as such? It makes me wonder what is foremost in their life, serving Christ or their lifestyle. I support their freedom to choose to worship as they see fit, but there are hundreds of denominations that have split over the years on doctrinal points less significant than this. It seems to me to be a part of the overall objective of normalizing what is otherwise(in my view) abnormal behavior, hence, the issues of defining marriage, parenting, etc.
If you have had discussions with homosexual clergy, I would be interested what they would say about these issues, as well as how they deal with congregational members who take them to task on these issues.

Greg Swartz

SC in KC asks how I "came to the conclusion that love and respect were positive attributes, and how [I]... determine appropriate expressions of love and respect apart from a theology"?

Well, first, I sure did not learn it from reading the Bible. If I relied on the Bible I would have learned from Exodus 21 the proper way in which to treat my slaves. Elsewhere in the Bible, I would have learned to kill people for all sorts of minimal indiscretions. Exodus 21:17, for instance, provides the death penalty for cursing ones mother or father - I do not condone such cursing, but it is hardly a capital offense.

I suppose that I learned how I should treat others based upon how I would like to be treated. This is nothing more than the concept of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is a concept that is common to many religion around the world and is obviously derived from common human observation as opposed to any type of godly ordination. In fact, I suggest that most of the rules of religion are simply rules that humans thought would be good for humanity and put them in the mouths of their various gods over the millenia.

I will open another can of worms here, since I mentioned Exodus 21. Fundamentalists make a big deal about the Ten Commandments and want it posted all over every public building in the country. What they do not tell people is that the Ten Commandments begins in Exodus 20 and is the first of four chapters that contain various commandments, many of which are clearly not relevant to the world today and repugnant to our modern concepts of fairness and justice. They are hardly fundamental to our laws and to advocate such is just a plain lie!

While there are many rules or commandments that are beneficial in the various religions, there are a whole lot of really bad ones. And, what is important it that the bad ones have been overcome by secular thought!

Ruth from Tucson

DA - don't go away. We congregational types may be a minority but we need to add our voices. You and Bill spoke well for me so I will just say Amen.

We are an affirming congretation and our mission statment is ChristsLoaf. That is an appropriate title given our focus on communion. We work with other groups and congregations to promote reconcilliation and education.

Beware of Biblical prooftexting - focusing on just one segment to support ideas already held.

SC in KC


If you are sincere in deriving your foundational ethics from "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," then I would question why you dismiss Christians as illogical, evil, liars, etc.? Is that how you wish to be treated? Do you wish to have your foundational ideology misrepresented?

I've never actually met anyone who genuinely treated others as they wanted to be treated. Most of the people I know would love to have someone give them $10,000.00, but I've never seen one of those people give that $10,000.00 away. Have you?

Still, it's not a bad ideology. I wonder, since all these religions of the world came up with the same idea, where do you think that idea originated? And why do you think it's a good idea? From a purely secular humanist perspective, wouldn't "do unto me as I want you to do unto me" be a more pragmatic ideology?

SC in KC

Ruth, you wrote, "Beware of Biblical prooftexting - focusing on just one segment to support ideas already held."

I agree wholeheartedly. Since I haven't received a reply from D.A., and since you are obviously well studied, I'd like to put the same question to you.

If you have reached your conclusions based on Scripture, I'd like to know which verses you've found to support your position. Can you elaborate for us, please?

Just Thinking

These are difficult times. Just when you think you have everything figured out, and you've got God in some little box, then reality slaps you in the head and tells you that it's not so simple. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us; that's complicated theology ... but more than that, it's love.

So how do we treat people? Just before where SC was quoting in 1 Cor 13 is the part where it talks about how knowledge is not enough. You can have all the rules and you're nothing without love. Then just after where SC quotes, it talks about where there is knowledge, it will cease. These things are not eternal, but love is eternal because God is love.

So, how do we treat people? First, I'd say that when someone comes into your Church you don't start prying into their life. If people start trying to fix people up with others, or they start whispering about why they are not married, then there is a problem.

People who are involved in unusual relationships should not advertise it, and should also keep it away from the children. Adults can deal with things without being affected, but children imitate what they see. You might argue that this is harsh, but we don't understand everything that is going on there, and nobody I have ever met that is gay or lesbian would choose that for themselves. So be respectful enough to not do anything that would inadvertently do harm to someone else.

Now, we have some decent ground rules. So then what? We're not in each others' face and let's start treating each other like none of this matters. We don't have to argue endlessly over the rules or over theology or anything else. Part of the trouble in Churches is that they get away from the Word of God into these topical studies and it becomes the Word of the Pastor, which is wrong. Each person must deal with God themselves. This can happen if we're not in each others' face; but if we are then there will be permanent strife. Don't forget: the single people have nothing to lose ... you can't screw with their families. So if you decide to become hateful, then expect your Church to fall because they'll have the ACLU all over you, and every other institution of God's and they'll make you shut up. On the other side, people won't respect parents and their right to raise their children in what they feel is a healthy environment will be all over you with a vengeance if you start messing with their blood. Don't ever mess with someone's children, especially with God's little ones.

I don't want anybody looking into every corner of my life at my sin, and I don't want to look at every corner of someone else's. I'm trying and you're trying. Maybe I'm not even trying to fix some sins, but please don't jump all over me and I won't jump all over you. But if you're hurting someone else, then I have to say something and so should you.

You know there are gay and lesbian folks who live chaste lives. For Christ's sake, respect that. Imagine how hard that is. I can't control my temper at times and that's a whole lot easier to control than sex drive. You go and criticize such people or pry into their lives, then that's just terrible. They would certainly have a right to criticize others when others can't control those little things in their lives. Those who live chaste lives bear the criticism and the gossip that they don't deserve; they suffer for what they cannot help and you turn it into a cross when you crucify them. Don't crucify Christ all over again.

SC in KC

Just Thinking...

You make several compelling points. Probably the most poignant is that of "criticism". You have never, nor will you ever, hear me criticize someone for their sin. As you say, I have my own sin to criticize. Why burden myself trying to point out the splinter in your eye when I've got a regular log jam in mine.

Still, there is a difference between criticism and rebuke. While we are NEVER called to criticize, we are called to...

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction."
2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)

Christ Himself says...

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent."
Revelation 3:19

When I hear the Truth of Scripture misrepresented, I must rebuke. It is not sinful to do so. In fact, it would be sinful NOT to do so. Christians who aren't loved enough to be told the truth, who aren't loved enough to be rebuked when their behavior flies in the face of Biblical admonition, will fall away.

Still, that correction and instruction must be done lovingly, gently, and truthfully. You will NEVER hear me condemn a soul, but you can expect me to correct poor doctrine at every opportunity.

Just Thinking

Matthew 7:1-2
1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Notice that it does not say to not judge, but it does say you will be judged by the same measure you go around applying to others. You see, people who start on rule-based thinking get it aimed right back at them.

For example, I heard one person quote Leviticus as an authoritative book of rules. They don't know what they are talking about. Most of Leviticus was nailed to the cross with Jesus, and it does not apply.

They need to read Acts 15 where Paul and others are discussing and even arguing over what things they should tell the Gentiles to obey. Why were they arguing? Because it was no longer clear now that the old had passed away.

It's fascinating that modern Christians would not know this or comprehend that Paul and others had to argue over what rules, if any, would be in place. And rest assured that most of Leviticus was abolished, and that is proved by Acts 15.

So, I judge the person who quotes Leviticus without very careful qualification is someone who is absolutely unqualified to teach anything to anyone about the Bible. They judge others by the letter of the law, and they so they must expect to be judged by the letter of the law ... harshly and insistently.

Here's a righteous judgment on those who insist on judging others according to their rules: they are anti-Christ.

SC in KC

Acts 15 does not "abolish" the law. The law has not been abolished at all, but rather fulfilled in Christ. Jesus said...

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
Matthew 5:17 (NIV)

The Levitical laws were fulfilled in Christ in a number of ways. Those laws calling us to keep ourselves set apart for God's purposes are fulfilled when we have faith in Jesus and abandon ourselves to His regenerative Spirit. Those laws calling us to piety and cleanliness are fulfilled in the atoning sacrifice Christ paid on the cross.

Paul addresses these issues in Romans 6, where he asks...

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"
Romans 6:1 (NIV)

And Paul answers, in the very next verse...

"By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"
Romans 6:2 (NIV)

What Acts 15 asserts is that we are not SAVED by the law. The message of the law is still valid and timely. For instance, we wouldn't have our children stoned for being drunkards and sloths, but we would hold them accountable. We wouldn't cast out the unclean from our communities, but we would certainly try to clense them. We wouldn't kill homosexuals, but homosexuality is still abominable.

As to the admonition in Matthew 7 against judgement, I wholly agree that we should not judge others, lest we be judged on the same grounds. However, rebuke is not judgement, and it is not targeted toward the soul but rather the stain. I cannot and will not judge someone's salvation, but I can certainly tell when Scripture is being misrepresented. Pointing out that unsound doctrine is, in fact, unsound does not equate to "judging" anybody.

Dave Miller

By now I suspect Bill knows that if he wants to get a lot of comments on his blog, all he needs to do is mention the “h” word.

Where to dig in here?

Michael, you ask, “Does love = accpetance?” No. Not even close. Acceptance is superficial; love is deep. Love involves the ability to step into the other’s shoes to the extent that is possible, and see things from his or her perspective. God shows us, in Christ, how to love. God steps into our shoes.

This is what in the past has been missing as the church wrestles with this issue. As Bill wrote: “Hearing from and about people whose lives are directly touched by this issue is the only way hearts and minds will be changed.” This is most certainly true, and I believe it’s precisely where we’re stuck.

Of the million or so verses of the canonical scriptures, some believe they can take the ten or so which refer to same-sex behavior in any way and settle the “h” issue. I have a couple of problems with this approach. First, it tends to focus our attention on an “issue,” rather than on GLBT persons. We can talk about this in the abstract and imagine that human beings are not actually affected by the conclusions we draw. But second, and just as important, we can believe we know all we need to know, just by reading those ten or so verses. We are inclined to go no further. We don’t make contact with the people we believe are the subjects of those verses, let alone get to know them in a way which approaches how God gets to know us in Christ. So we’re stuck. And the church gets stuck, because we’re not following the model which God set before us.

We condemn “homosexuals” and “homosexuality,” but the Bible doesn’t say a word about either. The whole notion of “sexual orientation” didn’t emerge until the 19th century. The only way “the bible” can say anything about either is for modern translators to go back and use these words to translate words which didn’t originally mean that. We mistakenly think we know what the bible says, when we actually haven’t read it carefully enough. In my denomination, the “anti-homosexuals” like to call themselves “the traditionalists.” I see myself as a traditionalist, but I don’t believe the church will actually have a tradition about “homosexuality” for another hundred years or so. In the 2000-year history of the church, the notion of “sexual orientation” is relatively new.

In being faithful to (its understanding of) the scriptures, the church has made serious errors before. Something that comes to mind right away is the controversy which got kicked up when Copernicus hypothesized that the earth went around the sun, and not the other way around. Sorry, Bill, but Calvin was one of those who attacked the Copernican theory on scriptural grounds. Calvin quoted Psalm 93:1 against Copernicus’ hypothesis: “The earth is also established; it cannot be moved.” And just to demonstrate that this was indeed a scriptural and theological issue, he added, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?”

Lutherans were no better in bringing in the big guns of scripture against Copernicus. Luther’s sidekick, Melanchthon, used Ecclesiastes 1:4-5 to condemn Copernicus. “The sun also rises, and the sun goes down and hurries to the place from which it came.” Then he added these dangerous words: “It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to obey it.”

All this may seem trivial to us now, in hindsight. We see those verses differently now. But 500 years ago, the authority of scripture was at stake.

SC, I have pointed you previously to a document which handles those 8 or 9 verses. You have said you don’t care to read it, since your mind is already made up. Okay. So we’re stuck again. (Not that I would expect a written document to do what only studying living, human documents could do.)

Earlier, Bill recommended a new book, called “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality,” by conservative Presbyterian scholar Jack Rogers. I bought it and read it. It’s a thorough and impressive treatment of the scriptural texts, plus the relevant official Presbyterian statements. Rogers ends up recommending a denominational apology to LGBT persons. He says, “To bar gay and lesbian people from ordination and marriage is a violation of the fundamental principles of our faith” (p. 126). The book’s points can’t be adequately summarized here, but I would invite other conservative, evangelical Christians to get a copy.

It’s interesting that LGBT persons don’t feel comfortable posting in this forum. It’s even harder to imagine, then, how they could possibly feel comfortable worshiping with many of you. Is that consistent with your mission?

Greg Swartz, an atheist, writes on this blog: “Secular humanists believe in reason and a love and respect for our fellow human beings, the other creature with whom we share this planet and the planet itelf.

So it is my relationship with others that is important!


For me the important thing is that other people live with that same love and respect for their fellow human being.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!? Are we being outdone in love by an atheist?? Surely we can do better than we have.

Just Thinking


You really have to start reading carefully. No, I did not say what you said I said about Acts 15. Think again. You just bore false witness against me!!!

I said that most of Leviticus was abolished. Have you ever heard of the ceremonial laws? Furtherore, you are horribly misinterpreting what Acts 15 says. Read it carefully. They are discussing not burdening the Gentiles with all the laws that their ancestors could not keep. Everyone else reading this should read for themselves. It's not hard. And it clearly indicates a change in expected behavior. Christians are not Jews, just in case you didn't know. And people who believe all those rules, regulations, ceremonial laws are still in place are antiChrist. That's a fact.

How about a post from you like, "Okay, I know that love does not insist on having it's own way. So once in my life I'll deal without having the last word. Okay, so the ceremonial laws were abolished and I did not read what you wrote because I jumped to a hasty conclusion that because you disagree with me that you are stupid. Okay, and I will learn to get along with others because I know that just finger-pointing hasn't really gotten me anywhere in my life."

By the same measure...

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